News24

SA prepares for cancer 'explosion'

2012-07-06 20:00

Cape Town - The public health care system must gear itself for an "explosion" of non-communicable diseases like cancer, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Friday.

"The whole world is going to experience an explosion of non-communicable diseases, among them cancer. Planning for cancer is very much planning for the future," he told reporters at research facility iThemba Labs in Cape Town.

He said the health department needed to invest in new technology to diagnose and treat these diseases.

The National Research Foundation (NRF), which ran the laboratory, had approached the minister to request funding for a more modern and dedicated particle accelerator, also known as a cyclotron, which could be used to treat cancerous tumours.

The machine could blast and greatly reduce tumours using proton therapy, especially small or awkwardly placed ones. This therapy accelerated a charged particle to enormous speeds and directed it down a pipe to a targeted area on the human body.

The greatest advantage of proton therapy over other cancer treatments was its ability to direct very high energy towards the tumour without greatly damaging surrounding healthy tissue.

The centre was the only place offering proton therapy on the continent.

Its cyclotron was in great demand by researchers and health specialists at the centre only had access to it four months of the year, limiting the days open for treatment and the number of patients.

Motsoaledi was given a tour of the facility and seemed excited at its potential.

"Obviously they need doctors, they need training, but they also need some form of funding... we need that interdepartmental co-operation," he said.

"Our agreement is that I must go back and do my homework to see how we are going to collaborate, so we have not yet arranged [anything]."

He said cancer patients were a priority. The department recently launched a cancer registry to track affected patients.

Motsoaledi said the registry would ensure patients did not "fall off the radar", and track the incidence, distribution, and control of the disease.

Comments
  • yvette.wiid - 2012-07-06 20:17

    Would very much like to know what scientific information the Minister has to back up this EXTREMELY distressing statement.

      hallo.daar.56 - 2012-07-06 22:06

      Just look around you dear.

      sandy.langenstrass - 2012-07-06 22:45

      yvette...maybe you are young...but I'm of the age where I have lost friends and family of which...half died from some form of cancer...so the minister is quite right with his info...it might be a depressing thing to hear...but rather the Hospitals gearup and be able to treat patients sooner than later.

      Adil Smit - 2012-07-07 00:34

      His statements are true - speak to doctors and nurses treating patients with cancer.

      philip.harris.967 - 2012-07-07 02:19

      He is correct. You need as much 'scientific information' to make that claim as you need to claim that night follows day. As tyroymike3 says we eat rubbish. Chuck out your Grains and Dairy and go back to a diet of fresh veg and lean meats.

      gareth.coats - 2012-07-07 09:03

      use Google Scholar and search for the following article, it's one of the few freely accessible academic papers on the subject. : A Cancer Journal for Clinicians > Vol 61 Issue 2 > Global cancer statistics. Author: Ahmedin Jemal DVM, You should read the whole thing. Also, you should note that with Africa's economic boom in process, and about 50% of our population living in urban areas, exposure to lifestyle risks and other pollutants are bound to have a public health effect. Our national life expectancy is increasing (normalising) and with an aging population comes --- CANCER! Read the article, its interesting and enlightening. G

      antin.herinck - 2012-07-07 14:27

      Yvette, he is knee jerking to the report of WHO he read. See: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2003/pr27/en/

      antin.herinck - 2012-07-07 14:45

      @Gareth, you said it: "with an aging population comes --- CANCER!" I dispute that we experience an "economic boom". Any growth is not translated into private sector employment. It's just that the growth in increased disposable income in the last two decades is limited to the public sector and our so-so economy is unable to carry much expansion there. So any increase in livings standards and related increases of incidence of cancer, will already be present and will only partially contribute to an already "capped" increase. I already put forward the limited SAn effect of an aging population in my earlier comment, before I read your comment. The two factors that will bring material increase in cancer are: 1) real tackling if HIV/AIDS. 2) Substantial improvement in average living standards, education about diet (exercise for sedentary persons.)

  • Irene - 2012-07-06 21:15

    The whole world is going to experience an explosion of non-communicable diseases, among them cancer. __________________ Best you let the rest of the world know about your discovery Aaron.

  • tyroymike3 - 2012-07-06 21:22

    How about moderating the ' cancerous ' diet the average people are stuffing down their throat's ? A diet change can do a lot more good than billions of rand to fix a largely preventable disease.

      antionette.oberholzer - 2012-07-06 21:45

      Not true, I've been diagnosed and lived a healthy lifestyle before. There is more to cancer than people think, I've been fighting 5 years now, diet and excercise is not the only solution. I'm 28 now and still trying to find the miracle pill.

      antionette.oberholzer - 2012-07-06 21:48

      Not true, I've been diagnosed and lived a healthy lifestyle before. There is more to cancer than people think, I've been fighting 5 years now, diet and excercise is not the only solution. I'm 28 now and still trying to find the miracle pill.

      tyroymike3 - 2012-07-06 22:04

      Hi Antoinette - I wish you all the best - only you know what you are going through but I was making a general comment - we are eating absolute rubbish food , we are poisoning our environment and we are living an unnaturally stressful lifestyle - it is medical disaster train heading at the general population and only the altering of basic human behaviour will have any general benefit , fancy machines and drugs will only treat the symptoms. Catch that magic bullet - good luck !!

  • gungets.tuft - 2012-07-06 21:36

    Yep, we need doctors, and I am pretty sure the ones we are getting out of training from Cuba are not trained up on the technology. Best you go and do the homework, just hope it is not in Limpopo because you will not have text books to do it with. So many decisions, so easy to make the wrong ones...

  • eugene.brink.9 - 2012-07-06 22:06

    Is this guy serious?? Not to underestimate the threat that cancer poses, but we have the highest Aids infection and incidence rate in the world. We've already had an Aids explosion, never mind a cancer one that is about to happen! A red-herring to divert attention away from the serious issues if you ask me. And then he proffers no reasons why we are about to be engulfed by cancer. Typical ANC speak . . .

      sandy.langenstrass - 2012-07-06 22:58

      eugene...let's just be happy if the government does something to improve their lack of almost everything in government hospitals...I see you are rather youngish, believe me as you get into your fifties you will begin to notice friends/family going down with cancer. I think the minister is on the right track to provide treatment for those that do not have Medical Aid.

      Adil Smit - 2012-07-07 00:31

      With ARV's AIDS can be a chronic illness - cancer rates in children and younger people are on the increase. That's another good reason not to expose South Africans to fracking with it's known cancer-causing chemicals.

      gareth.coats - 2012-07-07 09:00

      Eugene, use Google Scholar and search for the following article, it's one of the few freely accessible academic papers on the subject. : A Cancer Journal for Clinicians > Vol 61 Issue 2 > Global cancer statistics. Author: Ahmedin Jemal DVM, You should read the whole thing. Also, you should note that with Africa's economic boom in process, and about 50% of our population living in urban areas, exposure to lifestyle risks and other pollutants are bound to have a public health effect. Our national life expectancy is increasing (normalising) and with an aging population comes --- CANCER! So, the honourable and (i personally know this) knowledgeable Aaron is on the right track for achieving equitable access and a healthy set of public health policies. Read the article, its interesting and enlightening. G

      eugene.brink.9 - 2012-07-09 08:35

      Guys, I'm not saying do nothing for cancer. I've lost quite a few relatives and even some young friends because of this dreaded disease. There should be a lot of work done to try and prevent this disease, although I don't think SA has the human or other resources to deliver breakthroughs. Cancer will grow, just not enough to constitute an 'explosion', and to even compare it to the threat of Aids in the case of SA is crack science or dishonesty at their worst. Whereas the populations of West and East Africa will swell exponentially within the next 30 years, ours will dwindle and it's all because of Aids (and our govt's denial of it and failure to act). A medical friend of mine commented on my previous posts on this article on FB and said govt just actually doesn't want to spend money on dying people (with HIV) anymore, that's probably why they want to focus on something else in the hopes of showing the world they're actually doing something big. I've done extensive work on future scenarios, cancer won't be our biggest threat going forward, Aids will. Whereas our population would have been 77 million in 2037, it is now projected to be 47 million by then because of Aids. That is 4 million less than now.

  • hallo.daar.56 - 2012-07-06 22:09

    Admitting there is a problem coming is a start so perhaps it's best to drop the sly remarks and rather use that energy to actually contribute to managing what is already a bigger problem than HIV and will dwarf that particular epidemic in less than a decade from now. Also bear in mind that this one will not be largely limited to the poor and uneducated.

      eugene.brink.9 - 2012-07-06 22:31

      Sorry, but you also give no scientific proof why cancer will dwarf Aids in SA, now or anywhere in the future. Nowhere, not even on Reuters Health, have I seen anything that would even remotely suggest that cancer will dawrf Aids in SA. Demographics prove it. Yes, in rapidly ageing societies in the West cancer will probably be a big problem, and definitely bigger than Aids. But in a 3rd World Country like SA with a youthful population and high promiscuity? I'm sorry, you don't see people dying like flies in SA every day because of cancer. Our population is estimated to shrink over the next 25 years because of Aids. How could you even suggest that cancer will dwarf (!) it in as little as ten years? You say it won't be limited to the poor and uneducated? So who will it be limited to? The miniscule middle class and the small group of elderly people who can actually afford it. What country are you living in?

      hallo.daar.56 - 2012-07-06 23:42

      Try doing some research on modern findings and you will find the stats. Also factor in that with cheap ARV's you can live a decent life for decades. The time to death period is steadily increasing. Similar drugs also prevent transmission to infants. Technically HIV can become a non factor in a generation, even in 3rd world countries. Cancer does not play by the same rules.

      gareth.coats - 2012-07-07 09:01

      Eugene, there most certainly is, if you know how to look for it, and interpret it. Please see my comment on your previous post above, it will help you find some answers, and let you look for others. G

  • lynn.syme.1 - 2012-07-06 23:05

    GMO foods are going to cause an explosion in new cancers as they have not been trialed or tested and remain unlabelled. Furthermore, all the new vaccinations (big money) for HPV, pneumonia and diarrhea are being dumped in third world countries (thanks Bill and Melinda Gates)H1N1/5 vaccinations have already created havoc as they were also untested. Do your research on all of the above and come to your own conclusions. It's the worst crime against humanity on a mass scale.

  • Adil Smit - 2012-07-07 00:28

    Many of the chemicals used in fracking cause cancer. Another good reason for government not to allow fracking in South Africa.

  • thabob.zumagabe - 2012-07-07 06:25

    You Lie !!! I really hope it is a cANCer explosion !

      Phobos777 - 2012-07-07 10:45

      Yeah! BLOWN TO HELL...BACK WHERE THEY CAME FROM!

  • ewanvb - 2012-07-07 06:51

    There are reasons for the explosion in cancer deaths as people are to scared to get tested if they notice something wrong with their bodies. Men are especially affraid to go to doctors as they need to provide for their families and neglect their health. For all that has fallen in the battle against cancer- http://www.news24.com/MyNews24/Honour-the-fallen-Heroes-20120706 . There is a drive being planned to bring the awareness to more people about the advantage of getting tested regularly. The site for the drive is http://pole2poleandback.yolasite.com for the information. Get tested if you notice anything that is not normal on or in your body. It might save your life.

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